Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


SPHY301 Swallowing, Feeding, and Mealtime across the Lifespan AND SPHY302 Speech Pathology Practice 3A AND SPHY303 Voice Disorders Across the Lifespan

Unit rationale, description and aim

Speech pathologists need to have knowledge and skills for working with different populations and in a range of different settings. This unit is focused on building students' skills in working with adults, including those who experience acquired or progressive conditions that impact their communication and/or swallowing. 

This is the fifth of seven professional practice units in the Bachelor of Speech Pathology that provides direct evidence of competencies required by Speech Pathology Australia for entry into the profession. This unit provides students with the opportunity to consolidate, assimilate and transfer previous learning in an extended period of professional practice experience across one or more of the Speech Pathology Australia practice areas. In this unit students develop at least intermediate level competency in speech pathology practice during placement as well as during activities and tasks.

Counselling and interviewing skills will be consolidated to equip students for active and sensitive engagement with all stakeholders. Students will continue to build their skills in professional and occupational-based competencies required for practice and will progress their reflective practice and professional reasoning skills to further transform their clinical identity and professional skill-set.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Demonstrate professional competencies (reasoning, communication, learning and professionalism) at intermediate level as rated on the Competency Assessment in Speech Pathology (COMPASS®) (GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9)

LO2 - Demonstrate occupational competencies (assessment, analysis analysis and interpretation, intervention planning and intervention, managing services, supervisory practice, and reflective practice) at intermediate level as rated on the Competency Assessment in Speech Pathology (COMPASS®) (units 1-7) (GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Professional Practice and Lifelong Learning

  • Requirements of intermediate level speech pathology practice
  • Reflective practice and COMPASS
  • Using the COMPASS behavioural descriptors to guide self-ratings
  • Personal goal setting using the COMPASS behavioural descriptors
  • Scope of practice – clarifying the role
  • Ethical issues
  • Triangulation of perspectives (client, clinician, other)

Speech Pathology Practice

Working with clients:

  • Relationship development
  • Questioning
  • Observation
  • Paraphrasing and Summarising
  • Goal selection
  • Feedback
  • Therapy contracts


Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In this unit, students are encouraged to increase their overall independence during practice, and begin to manage cases with less support. Whilst students are required to reach an intermediate level of competency by the completion of their placement, they are expected to demonstrate progression in their knowledge, skills, attitudes, and identity as a speech pathologist throughout the unit. 

The blended approach to this unit acknowledges that students will be experiencing a range of contexts, supervision styles, and client types throughout the semester and will require various levels and types of staff support during the unit. Students will also be engaged in professional practice placement at different times during the semester, so while university based activities will be provided throughout the semester, additional contact with university staff will be available during the student’s particular placement period.

This unit comprises 150 hours of learning and teaching of which 120 hours are professional practice placement. Placement is conducted external to the University, or within on-campus ACU health clinics. These activities are integral to the development of competency as a speech pathologist, and enable the student to further develop their skills, knowledge and attitudes within a ‘real world’ context. Students attend these activities individually, in pairs, or in small groups and are supervised by a qualified speech pathologist who supports their learning and development of competencies. In addition, the professional practice placement experiences in this unit are supplemented by tutorials, group and individual discussions and self-directed learning activities which foster peer learning, reflective practice and shared problem solving, as well as exposing students to workplace contexts which they might not individually experience during the course. 

All content, both on-campus and off-campus is designed to further develop the student’s professional identity as a speech pathologist and to ensure that they continue to build their evidence of intermediate level competencies across relevant practice areas for speech pathologists. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

All professional practice units are pass/fail only and students must meet/pass all of the assessable components to pass any professional practice unit. Student results are ultimately determined by the Lecturer in Charge (LIC) after considering all of the assessment results. Various assessment tools are used throughout the Bachelor of Speech Pathology to evaluate student competency during placements. These include the Competency Assessment in Speech Pathology (COMPASS) tool (SPA, 2006) completed by the professional practice educator and the student to assess directly observed performance on the Professional Practice Placement component of the unit as well as completion of the Professional Practice Portfolio.

Professional Portfolio: Students will submit a portfolio including a reflection on their development of competency across practice areas and submit examples of their work that demonstrate competency at intermediate level or above. Examples of competency evidence include a reflective portfolio with artefacts such as learning goals, session plans, professional reflections, therapy resources, data records, progress notes, reports, information / education resources, evidence of attendance at professional development seminars and project plans. The Bachelor of Speech Pathology at ACU has been accredited based on the requirement that students and academic staff have a means of tracking competency development across the speech pathology practice areas. The Professional Portfolio is one means of providing evidence for competency development. Students will have one opportunity to resubmit their portfolio if it is marked as being unsatisfactory. If they do not reach a satisfactory level on the resubmission, they will fail the unit.

Professional Practice Placement: All aspects of the student’s performance is assessable during the placement period, as competency is developed and assessed dynamically from the first to the last day of placement by the Professional Practice Educator (PPE). Student performance is assessed against behavioural descriptors which are presented in a hierarchy of competency development, from novice to intermediate to entry level and form the basis of the rubric used for placement assessment. During the placement, the student is provided with formal formative feedback midway through the placement, and summative feedback at the end of the placement period using an assessment tool called COMPASS®. Students will also be required to submit a self-assessment at both mid and final placement.

COMPASS® is a psychometrically validated assessment instrument that provides a measure of speech pathology student competence, and is recommended by Speech Pathology Australia. COMPASS® has been developed to assist in the evaluation of speech pathology students’ performance in the workplace, to identify their learning needs and to determine their readiness to enter the professional workforce. The assessment process incorporates a formative component (mid placement assessment) and resource materials to assist the educator and student in the process of developing the student’s competence. 

In order to ensure the assessment is suitably moderated, it may be necessary for the LIC to contact the Professional Practice Educator (PPE) if there is apparent disparity between written or verbal comments regarding the student performance relative to the assessment tool results, or any other inconsistencies. If a student's performance on placement does not meet the satisfactory/pass standard (i.e., below intermediate level), the student will fail the unit.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Professional Portfolio:

Students reflect on development of competency and provide evidence of intermediate level competencies across the range of practice areas.


LO1, LO2

GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Completion of Professional Practice Placement including:

  • Completion of mandatory tasks
  • a satisfactory grade on COMPASS® 

At final placement, the student’s overall rating must be at intermediate. All four of the Professional Units 1-4 and Competency Units 1-4 must be rated as Intermediate.

Student must have self-rated their competencies on the COMPASS at mid and final placement

Pass/ fail

LO1, LO2

GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Cook, K., Tillard, G., Wyles, C., Gerhard, D., Ormond, T., & McAuliffe, M. (2019). Assessing and developing the written reflective practice skills of speech-language pathology students. International Journal of Speech language Pathology, 21(1), 4-55.

Duffy. (2020). Motor Speech Disorders E-Book: Substrates, Differential Diagnosis, and Management. Mosby.

Groher, & Crary, M. A. (2021). Dysphagia: clinical management in adults and children (3rd ed.). Mosby.

Lieberman, A. (2018). Counseling Issues: Addressing Behavioral and Emotional Considerations in the Treatment of Communication Disorders. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 27(1), 13–23.

McAllister, S., Lincoln, M., Ferguson, A. & McAllister, L. (2013). COMPASS®: Competency assessment in speech pathology technical manual (2nd ed.). Speech Pathology Australia.

Papathanasiou, & Coppens, P. (2022). Aphasia and related neurogenic communication disorders (3rd ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Speech Pathology Australia. (2020). Code of Ethics 

Speech Pathology Australia. (2017). Competency-based occupational standards for speech pathologists revised.

Speech Pathology Australia. (2020). Professional Standards for Speech Pathologists in Australia.Professional Standards (

Stagnitti, K., Schoo, A., & Welch, D. (Eds). (2010). Clinical and fieldwork placement in the health professions. Oxford University Press.

Whitworth, Howard, D., & Webster, J. (2014). A cognitive neuropsychological approach to assessment and intervention in aphasia: A clinician’s guide (2nd ed.). Psychology Press.

World Health Organisation. (2023). International classification of functioning, disability and health.

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